Now that we are all expected to wear face masks, a new challenge has been presented to people with hearing loss. Face masks are distorting speech, making it more difficult for your clients to understand what a person is saying. This blog will guide you on how to make adjustments to your clients’ hearing aids to help make speech through face masks clearer and easier for them to process.
Face masks prevent lip reading and reduce the high frequencies of speech. These are the vital cues for speech understanding, and when they have been removed, audibility is being compromised. At the very least, wearing a face mask will be making communication more effortful for your clients, especially when there is a background noise. In addition, the type of face mask being used can affect just how much speech is being distorted, and the extent of the challenge for your clients to understand speech through masks will certainly differ from person to person.
Help your clients during the corona virus epidemic by creating tailored hearing aid programs
Creating additional programs in your clients’ hearing aids will enable them to easily access “more help” when they find themselves in situations where hearing speech can be difficult because of face masks. These programs can be launched either via push button, remote control or the Oticon ON app. And you can create multiple programs so that there are different levels of help for your clients depending on which type of face mask is presenting a challenge. You can easily create additional programs by copying the general program (P1) and then adjusting the gain settings for the different types of masks.
- Be sure to tag the additional programs with identifying names to make it quick and easy for your client to select the program they need in the app.
- Remember to adjust both hearing aids equally for each program.
- Run the feedback analyser with each new program to ensure that new gain settings are not in the feedback risk area.
- Ensure your patient does not experience loudness discomfort from the adjusted settings, especially those with higher level hearing loss.
How to adjust the setting in additional programs for different types of face masks
For a surgical/thin mask- Increase the gain for soft, moderate and loud sounds in the high frequencies from 1.75 to 6 kHz
For a FFP3/thicker mask- Increase the gain for soft, moderate and loud sounds in the high frequencies from 1 to 6 kHzi
You can make the adjustments remotely with RemoteCare
If a client cannot come to your clinic, you can create additional programs and make the necessary adjustments with the help of Oticon RemoteCare*. RemoteCare offers your clients the convenience of many of your services from the comfort of their home and is especially useful when a client may be isolating or vulnerable. If you do not have a RemoteCare account set-up you can find out how to do so here:
How to get started with RemoteCare
We do however recommend that you schedule an in-person appointment if the adjustments you make for your clients exceed the limits in the feedback analyser or if you have not previously run a feedback analysis.
Additional advice to pass on to your clients to help improve communications when face masks are being used:
- Oticon wireless microphones, ConnectClip and EduMic, can be extremely beneficial for your clients as they overcome the challenge of listening to someone wearing a face mask. If your client is regularly presented with an important speaker wearing a mask that they are finding difficult to understand, such as a teacher or manager, a wireless microphone can help significantly without them needing to change their hearing aid program. These microphones can be paired to any Oticon Bluetooth hearing aids.
- Recommend that your client reduce background noise, such as music, so that there are fewer sounds for them to process. Alternatively, where possible, recommend that your client move to a quieter location.
- You can advise your client to ask the person they are speaking with to speak slowly, as clearly as possible, and not to shout.
- Encourage your clients to switch to their new additional programs for support, otherwise, you can suggest that they adjust the overall volume of their hearing aids.
*RemoteCare is available for hearing aids on Velox and Velox S platforms with 2.4GHz wireless technology.